Vallejo, CA - A Vallejo police officer who was accused of using a racial slur on a traffic stop on Saturday afternoon, July 8, has been fully cleared after an investigation uncovered video of the incident.
According to the East Bay Times, an internal investigation was initiated by the Vallejo Police Department after a resident used a cell phone to record about five minutes of the traffic stop.
The incident occurred in the 600 block of Louisiana Street when two officers stopped two suspects in a truck for suspected carjacking.
The resident who recorded the video from his house, Leo Bruno, told CBS San Francisco (KCBS-TV) that he heard one of the officers shout the 'N'-word toward one of the vehicle's occupants.
According to CBS News, Bruno gave them a copy of the video, and said "It sounded pretty clear to me as I was filming, though, some who've watched it have had a little trouble hearing it." Perhaps because that word was never said.
He also told CBS San Francisco that "All the fatal shootings over the past year, like, [Philando] Castile, [Michael] Brown and [Trayvon] Martin. We were worried it was going to happen again right on our doorstep."
Bruno also said that he saw the officers handcuff the two people in the truck, lay them down on the ground, and search them. He told CBS San Francisco, "I thought it was potentially another [police] shooting incident and I was nervous that the gun was going to go off and they were going to shoot the driver. It's always unnecessary and uncalled for and just racist to say things like that."
CBS San Francisco then showed the video to Vallejo Police Lieutenant Kenny Parks, and asked him if he supported officers who made racial slurs. In response, he said "I think you know the answer to that -- the answer is no."
Vallejo Police Chief Andrew Bijou suspended the officer, who was not identified, and ordered an internal investigation.
In a press release, Chief Bijou said that both occupants of the truck, who were Hispanic, were interviewed. The driver, who was not identified, said that the police officer did not use any racial slurs, in particular the 'N'-word.
The passenger, David Plancarte, was arrested for his part in an armed carjacking, and refused to give a statement, according to KRON4.
The Vallejo PD was able to obtain an original of the recording from Bruno. In the video, the wrongly-accused officer can be heard saying "Hey David," where the 'N'-word was alleged to have been used.
Police said that the officer was cleared of the racial slur, but that an investigation is ongoing about his use of profanity for telling the suspected carjacker that he would "f-ing blow you away" if he reached for a weapon. He is scheduled to return to work this week.
On Monday, July 10, the Vallejo Police Department issued a press release, calling for a retraction of the CBS San Francisco story. A correction was also requested.
In the press release, the VPD listed the steps that it took during the internal investigation of the accused officer, and noted that where the officer was alleged to have said the 'N'-word that he could "clearly" be heard saying "Hey David".
The story and video link have been removed from its website by CBS San Francisco. However, there has been no retraction, no correction, and no apology to the Vallejo police officer that they so willingly seemed to judge as racist.
The original story was picked up by at least 20 professional news outlets, which painted the officer as racist. Few of those news outlets have released a correction.
You can see the video below. WARNING - Graphic language: